Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister Mr. Lai Mohammed says the prediction by the Economists, a UK based publication as well as HSBC, Europe’s biggest multinational Bank group that Nigeria’s incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari would not return to power in 2019 will certainly fail.
The Minister disclosed this on Friday while answering questions when he took the Nigerian Government’s campaign against fake news to the Management of Channels Television at the office Headquarters in Lagos, South West Nigeria.
According to the Minister, the prediction did not come as a surprise considering the timing as well as events happenings in Nigeria particularly the success of the Buhari’s anti corruption fight.
“Talking about fake news, we also expect that those who have been deeply affected by our policies will mount a sustained campaign against this Administration in the weeks and months to come. In fact, they have already started. We have all read that the Intelligence Unit of the Economist said the PDP will defeat the ruling APC in 2019. We have also read that the international financial institution, HSBC, said Nigeria’s economic development will be stunted if President Buhari gets a second term,” he said.
Mohammed suggested that the anti corruption crackdown of the government was also affecting some entities and organisations across the Western world, because President Buhari’s has blocked some slush funds and corrupt proceeds going to them and as such some of those entities affected are not happy with the person of Buhari and his government.
“This is a new order. We won’t continue with the old order were some of these Western institutions benefited from our looted common wealth. We’d rather put our commonwealth into developing the country in areas of infrastructure and others” he explained.
He however stated that elections are local and the fate of 2019 elections will be decided by Nigerians and Nigerians alone not any foreign body or organisation.
“The truth, however, is that only the good people of Nigeria will determine who presides over the affairs of the country, not any bank or media establishment, irrespective of their influence or self-importance. The parents and wards of the 8.5 million school children, who are being fed every school day under our home-grown school feeding system, are feeling the impact of this Administration.
The more than six million farmers, who have joined rice production since this Administration came on board, know what this government has done. Nigerians, who are enjoying more stable electricity after power production has more than doubled, know better. The 500,000 unemployed graduates who have benefitted from our N-Power programme know that these naysayers are only thinking about themselves. So we are not bothered.”
The Minister maintained that the analysis of the doom prediction against the president did not put into cognisance the giant strides of the government in so many areas like infrastructure, agriculture, social investment among others.
“Let me state clearly that these reports are based on fake premises and, therefore, qualify as fake news. It is a psychological warfare by those who have been badly hit by our policies. For example, out fight against corruption has meant that many financial institutions, especially banks that fed fat on the proceeds of corruption are no longer able to do that. Also, international publications that used to feed fat on questionable supplements paid for by the Federal Government have seen a drastic reduction in such patronage, as the Administration cuts down on frivolous spending that was the order of the day in the past. Therefore, it is natural that these institutions and publications would not wish to see another term for this Administration,” the minister noted.
Earlier in his address, the Minister said it was very important for the media to drive the campaign against fake news; hence the advocacy visits to media organisations.
According to him, “if fake news is allowed to erode the credibility of the news business, the media will be the first and the biggest victim. Therefore, by partnering with the government to make the campaign a success, the media was acting in its enlightened self interest”.
“Since launching the campaign, we have recorded a huge success. Yes, we have not stopped the spread of fake news, and we are not under any illusion that we can stop it so fast. But we have succeeded in bringing the issue of fake news to the front burner. It is now a subject of national discourse, workshops and conferences. That, to us, is a major step forward, and we thank all our partners, and indeed all Nigerians, for this achievement.
Fake news is not a Nigerian problem. It is a global problem, and every country is evolving ways of tackling the problem. Here in Nigeria, our approach is to appeal to the sense of responsibility of media practitioners, bloggers and social media influencers. We will neither coerce nor censor the media. Also, we are not advocating the enactment of new laws, because we believe there are enough laws in our books to deal with this problem. We believe in the capacity of the media to self-regulate, so as not to self destruct. Fake news, if left unchecked, has the capacity to disrupt the
peace and unity of any country. It is also a clear and present danger to any democracy.”
In another response to a question, the Minister defended the appointment of the new Director General of the Department of State Security, Yusuf Bichi which has been criticized in some quarters to be a system of nepotism.
Mohammed said federal government’s appointments must be viewed in a comprehensive and holistic context not to just single out one entity.
He said if appointments are viewed holistically, then people would understand clearly that there was no any element of nepotism as being bandied around just to discredit the government.
He said if at all there were skewed cases in some quarters the government was ready to listen and make adjustments were necessary because it is a listening government and a government for all Nigerians.
For his part, the chairman Channels Television Mr. John Momoh said the station is apolitical in their dealings and only believes in responsible journalism that holds leaders accountable to the society regardless of their affiliation.
“Before the advent of the present administration, our station was accused by the then system that we were working and supporting the APC and the same scenario is playing out now, we are being accused by the same APC of working for the PDP. So we are being put in the middle and I am glad that we are in the middle. We don’t owe anybody, party or group any allegiance.
We are going to do our job responsibly. We are thorough breed professionals. We owe the society a responsibility to report all sides and also report everything that is going in the country no matter who is involved and we will continue to do that.
I am not a politician, I have never got involved in politics and I am not interested in politics. Mine is media and channels Televison in particular and we will continue to do that because we were given this TV licence in public trust and we have to do the right thing “Momoh said.